It takes a concerted effort to bring guests to the point where they’re ready to make a reservation. Hotels have to invest extensively in marketing, price strategically, offer up extra amenities, optimize their loyalty programs and appeal to guests across multiple online channels. When a guest finally makes the decision to book, hotels must to be able to capitalize on the opportunity instantaneously, or else risk losing out in the process.
A 2018 survey by SaleCycle showed that 81% of travellers abandon bookings—the highest rate out of the five industries surveyed. Continued success in the hotel industry depends on lowering that figure by turning curious travellers into committed customers. Clearing the booking hurdle requires a careful combination of speed, simplicity and synthesis.
Perfecting the Booking Process
Even the best hotels only manage to convert about 5% of the guests who visit their website. People don’t get cold feet because the hotel suddenly seems inconvenient or unappealing, but rather because the booking process itself has those barriers. A seamless booking, by comparison, relies on the following components.
- Fast Load Times: Guests won’t wait for a website to load—and your hotel’s booking engine is no exception. Make sure it works quickly and seamlessly at all hours of the day, on any kind of device.
- Clear Value Proposition: Guests should feel like your hotel is the ideal option because of price, quality and location. Make it clear in the booking engine and throughout the online marketing effort why now is the best time to book.
- Attention-Grabbing Images: Guests need to be excited about their stay to get motivated about their reservation. Use impressive, eye-catching images to give guests a strong first impression of what they can expect.
- Honesty and Transparency: Guests will drop a booking if they feel like they’re being manipulated. Avoid bait-and-switch tactics in favour of an honest, upfront approach that carries through your marketing onto your booking engine.
- Multiple Contact Channels: Guests want answers, not uncertainty. Throughout the booking process, make it as easy as possible for people to ask questions without having to pick up the phone.
When all these elements align, guests should be able to complete the booking process without friction, decreasing their likelihood to turn elsewhere.
The Benefits of Better Booking
Perfecting the booking process is good for guests, but it’s even better for hotels. Upgrading to an integrated, online booking system has proven to directly impact the bottom line, especially when paired with the following capabilities:
- 24/7 Engagement: A booking process that does not rely on human input will work consistently at all hours of the day. Leverage chatbots and digital concierges to be able to respond to customer queries at all times. When there is no such thing as “off hours”, guests can ask questions and find answers whenever is most convenient for them—and your property captures more business as a result.
- Streamlined Reservation Management: An inventory management system can help your staff manage reservations instantly and precisely. Instead of accidentally overbooking, staff can rely on their reservation tools for inventory tracking and focus instead on delivering an impeccable guest experience.
- Tracking Guest Data: Digital bookings generate valuable data about guests and their unique preferences and patterns. Hotels can use this data to create guest profiles, personalize services and improve revenue property-wide. Effective data tracking also opens the doors to upselling, which is a lot more successful if the right offer is extended at the right time. Modern booking engines can seamlessly insert targeted upselling offers, helping hotels to maximize the value of each guest.
- Establishing an Image: When hotels offer an intuitive and engaging booking process, those qualities are reflected onto the property itself. Guests arrive believing the hotel is able to make their stay perfect.
We’re all familiar with the ease of abandoning an online order for even the subtlest inconvenience. Now that the internet has trained customers to expect perfection, hotels need to deliver it in order to capture their share of bookings. Make a great impression with a responsive booking process and exceed expectations from the very first click.
RoomKeyPMS integrates a world-class booking engine with comprehensive tools for property management. 30-second reservations are within your reach. Contact our team to learn how.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / GaudiLab